July 12, 2019 / 1:16 PM / a year ago

Ivory Coast bitumen maker SMB expects to double sales in two years

ABIDJAN, July 12 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast bitumen maker SMB expects sales to double in the next two years, boosted by a boom in road building in Nigeria, Ghana and its domestic market, the company’s general director said on Friday.

Societe Multinationale des Bitumes (SMB), the only bitumen producer based in West and Central Africa, sold about 210,000 tonnes in 2018, up from 192,000 tonnes the previous year, said Mamadou Doumbia.

The company, which also sells to Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Niger and Angola, will start selling to Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Senegal this year, Doumbia said.

The company expects to sell 236,000 tonnes of bitumen in 2019, 357,000 tonnes in 2020 and 427,000 tonnes in 2021 on the back of rising demand from the region’s economic powerhouses, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Ivory Coast and Ghana are among the world’s fastest-growing economies, with expected growth rates of 7% and 7.3% respectively this year, the African Development Bank says.

Nigeria bought a third of SMB’s output - 75,000 tonnes of bitumen - in 2018, with the figures expected to rise to 200,000 tonnes in 2021.

A joint project signed last month with Ghana Oil Company to stock 6,000 metric tonnes of bitumen per year in a Ghana depot will also boost the company’s revenues, Doumbia said, adding that the project should be operational in 2021. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Anna Pujol-Mazzini and David Goodman)

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